The Urantia Book Fellowship: A Brief History
Starting in 1924, every Sunday at 3 p.m. a group of interested friends met at the Chicago home of Drs. William and Lena Sadler to read and review unusual information that was coming through a mysterious "sleeping subject." The voluminous material--the Urantia papers--revealed to them new ideas of the universe of universes; life after death; man's origin, history, destiny and life on earth; and the life and teachings of Jesus.
This group of initial reviewers, who became known as the Forum and who signed a pledge of secrecy, grew to include individuals from all walks of life. Much of the content of the papers was based on answers to questions they had been invited to submit, and there was a steady turnover of members. Between 1924 and June 7, 1942, when Dr. Sadler officially disbanded the Forum by announcing that it had completed its work, almost five hundred people had participated. Between this date and book publication, the group continued to meet weekly to read and discuss the papers.
In 1950, the contact commission who had been directly in touch with the superhuman phenomenon, consisting of Dr. Sadler (Dr. Lena passed away in 1939), his son Bill Sadler, his secretary Emma Christensen, and in-laws Wilfred and Anna Kellogg, together with some close Forum friends, formed the Urantia Foundation in preparation for book publication. In January 1955, prior to the book publication the following October, the Forum group reorganized into the Urantia Brotherhood, projected to become the vehicle for social organization and dissemination activity.
For 34 years, Urantia Brotherhood and Urantia Foundation worked together side-by-side on publication and dissemination, the Foundation having franchised the Brotherhood to use the name Urantia and the three-concentric-circles symbol. In 1989, due to ideological differences that are documented elsewhere, Urantia Foundation disenfranchised the Brotherhood.
The now independent Brotherhood set about finding other quarters. In the process of disenfranchisement the Brotherhood was required to give up the name "Urantia Brotherhood", the use of the words Urantia and Urantian, and the use of the concentric circles symbol. In addition, for several years members of the Brotherhood were unable to obtain books from Urantia Foundation, which held the copyright and controlled distribution. The Brotherhood's thirty years of work establishing distribution channels for the Urantia Book was shut down. Without access to books or names of new readers, the future for the organization looked bleak.
But the Brotherhood was only temporarily daunted. It legally changed its name to The Fifth Epochal Fellowship and later to The Urantia Book Fellowship, purchased a new headquarters building in Chicago and continued to pursue its mission of disseminating the teachings by supporting study groups and hosting local, national and international conferences.
In 1996, when the Foundation lost the copyright to the Urantia Book, the Fellowship printed its own edition using its subsidiary Uversa Press. Once again the organization had an ample supply of books and was insured against ever again being cut off from supplies. The copyright was briefly reinstated, but in 2002 the original English text of the Urantia Book was legally declared to be in public domain. Since then the Urantia Book Fellowship has continued to print, distribute and improve its edition of the book. In 2005, the Fellowship sold its building in Chicago to become a virtual online organization capable of being managed online by readers anywhere in the world.
The original Urantia Brotherhood continues to grow today as the Urantia Book Fellowship. It supports a wide range of reader activities and dissemination services, from web resources to international conferences, interfaith events, outreach expositions, public introductions, Urantian scholarships, translations, audio recordings, international book fairs and study groups. The goal has always been to make the Urantia Book available to any human being who longs for its sublime wisdom and truth.
Beyond all human and organizational struggles, the Urantia Book Fellowship continues its efforts to foster good relations amongst all Urantia Book readers, believers, and groups, viewing them all as brothers and sisters and partners in the work of worldwide dissemination, consistently striving for brotherly love, inclusivity and integrity; recognizing that there is a true spiritual kinship underlying all Urantia Book believers, who endure and endeavor to serve God and humanity.
We, the Urantia Book Fellowship, above all, honor and serve this family of believers.
For an even more detailed history of the Fellowship including documents
that have been archived, click the link below.